Amelia Bird, 26 January 2014


I'll Show You Mine is a conversation started by Bryony Kimmings' blog about fair pay

for artists in touring agreements. Many responses have followed, you can find them

online and follow the

#illshowyoumine hashtag on twitter.

Two meetings of artists followed (venues were not asked to come at the very early

stage so that artists could feel they could speak freely, but this is very much a problem

which needs to be solved by venues and artists working together). The main action

points discussed at the first two meetings were:

- Venues and artists meeting and talking honestly together to make UK touring


- The creation of a best practise document and fee calculator for the performance

sector similar to the work of AN for visual artists.

- The publishing of artist and venue case studies of best and worst ways of working.

- Assessment of the need for a coalition or union of independent theatre artists.


The session was LARGE, it is fair to say that everyone who spoke felt that the current

touring situation is unsustainable. Some areas covered include:


- Please see above for actions you can take and how to get involved. I'll Show You

Mine meetings are now open to ALL.

- A document/calculator was a popular notion.

- Check out the Finn Kennedy Delphi Study.

- Artists MUST pay collaborators fairly.

- Call ITC if you need advice, even if you are not a member.

- Can you ‘show yours?’ Do not be ashamed of your budget.

- “Set your own contract, stop working with A-holes”.


- “There's not much money, how to we distribute it more fairly?” We need to no how

the money is being distributed first, so transparency is a vital step

- What is the value of in-kind support? Can artists and venues talk about things which

would help reduce costs?

- ‘But let’s not pretend that support in kind can put food in my belly'

- Venues are under-resourced and sometime inefficient, but please don't think they are

hiding money from you. Trust one another.

- Funding bodies need feedback about people they are funding. Ask the Arts Council

how artists can do this. Their new NPO guidelines tell organisations to pay properly,

how do we make sure that actually happens? There is no representative independent

artists' body to represent all that ACE is saying in the new guidelines.

- We also need to know what those new guidelines mean - e.g. when you're touring?

When you're programming? When you're developing work? etc

- “The Arts Council are not the theatre police, we need to share information ourselves”.

There is a feeling that enough people care about compassion, kindness, fairness etc,

but nothing in place to deal with when things go wrong. How do we disseminate the

right kind of information so that artists feel empowered in this instance?

- If ticket sales can't cover costs how can we operate? We need to grow the audience.

- “Venues, if you can't afford it, don't buy it”.

- Artists need to take the product all the way through the capitalist model, should

venues pay you more than they can make from your ‘product’?

- Artists get more out of their old work by touring for longer or bringing a show back.

- We need to recognise the value of a space as a creative space and a commercial

space. Money from commercial income doesn't always translate in being able to

subsidise other work


- Can venues and artists share audience data to help us all talk to audiences better?

- “Venues should not be seen as solely responsible for audiences”

- “Sometimes work is written off before it even arrives at a venue. When we argue too

much about economic value we ‘dumb down’ and lower expectations of the audience -

meaning there is an assumption that it can't be sold. So the worst venues don't even

try - even if they really like the work”.

- Some venues, however, do look beyond this argument and still struggle.

- We need to talk to the public honestly about the cost of theatre too and how much is

done for nothing.


- Venues and artists could talk via existing networks such as: Theatre UK (check out

their touring symposium), House Network, Venues North, London Theatre Consortium,

Live Art UK, TYA, P.A.L.

- There are no artists on the SOTA or FSST touring panels.

- Artists who want a voice should put themselves forward to be on the boards of


- Venues talk amongst themselves about their experiences of working with artists,

artists should not be afraid of doing the same about good or bad venue experiences.

- Artists should communicate the invisible subsidy of time everywhere they can,

including in funding evaluations. “We are £20,000 overbudget if you include the work

we do for free. Also submit how well the partnerships with venues REALLY worked.

- Venues do not realise how far away from covering costs the fees they are offering


- ”Call us venues out when we spend money on press night drinks and shit marketing

departments, it may be that they are finding it hard to get rid of someone“.

- There will always be room to compromise on fees, even if a calculator exists, talk it

through each time a deal is struck.

- Artist have fear about ‘showing mine’ because we worry it makes us look

unsuccessful, be we must have transparency to change.

- Talk to Equity, the independent sector confuses them, but it will save us doubling up

on some work.

- We need transparency across the whole industry.

- Can we stop just getting well-known, well-paid artists to represent us about arts cuts,

they are rich!

- Becki Haines gave a positive case study of how when she is honest with a venue

about her touring costs and showed her budget they are more likely to pay a fee which

covers costs.

- Some venues were openly pushing artists to call them out on things they were doing

wrong - institutionalisation often puts up huge barriers to enforcing change - the

pressure has to come from artists.

- We need to develop the roots of a dialogue that can go further up the tree to

challenge the nationalised building model, which is damaging to the grass roots one

that is being threatened


- Venues are getting hit from central government cuts, local authority cuts AND less

individual giving. There is still the option for doing it on the cheap, and we need to

reverse this flow so that the option isn't there - need to go to policy level

- Artists get those cuts passed down, but have no back-up resources.

-”We take the small fees, because if we don't someone else will". Standards need to

be set higher up the chain so artists don't have the option to work for super-cheap.

- With a different funding system there may be less work getting made and put on.

- There is a lack of trust/respect of existing unions.

- The economics of British theatre are SHIT, they need remaining totally.

- In fighting is a huge problem. Until we sort this out how can we fight the even bigger


- Do we in theatre believe in ourselves and our value? Look at education, healthcare

etc for example - eventually when they're squeezed and cut, the electorate will stand

up and shout. Do we think the electorate would do that if artists disappear?

- If we don't pay properly we don't give everyone a voice, makers will be less diverse.

- We have to be transparent and expose some cold hard truths before we can move

on and rise above the in fighting. We have to subscribe to something bigger - like we

do with D&D

- Things won't change without collective mobilisation

- How do we make Equity / ITC structures represent reality? How do we get them to

understand (as we as an independent sector understand about ourselves) that they're

not getting it right?

- If we work on the basis that people will keep working for nothing, it'll fast become

unsustainable. The only people able to make work will be a privileged few. If art is

what gives a voice to the world, then we are just narrowing that voice.


- Rebecca Manson-Jones employed 20 artists at Equity rates last year, but earned

£70 she could be taxed on.

- Gemma from Action Hero toured 5 continents and made £12,000 per year.

- Rebecca Atkinson Lord makes £15000 from working at a venue, which subsidises

her artistic work so she has lost £200 at the end of the year.

- There is a writers network questionnaire going round asking ‘how much do you really

get paid?’

Comments: 2

Jonathan Petherbridge, 28 January 2014

Sad not to be able to get into this conversation but circle was too big and ears are too bad (but people clearly care).

Reading the report it seems the relationship between venue and “artist” dominated the conversation, and dominates the

system today. It appears that this relationship is now dependent and distended - distancing the theatre maker from the

theatre attender. Inevitably touring shows (and artists) are unconsciously seen as commodities to be placed in the shop

window of the venue.

Rather than questioning the price tags that have been placed on us I think we have to get out of the shop.

Jonathan Petherbridge

Phelim McDermott, 4 February 2014

Lyn's related Blog